Artist Rich Thorne aka Richt is lucky to be from a UNESCO world heritage site. A river port town of 25,000, his hometown of Barnstaple in North Devon, England has a “biosphere status”; a category reserved for places of great natural beauty.
So it made perfect sense when the multidisciplinary artist who is now based in Bristol, UK was chosen to create the first mural in the town. With a background in commercial, corporate, and individual art projects in illustration, painting, toy design, and animation, he has a well-developed sense for what audiences like. He also has up-close familiarity with the UK graffiti scene in the early 2000s.
This month Richt is participating in the new exhibition opening at Urban Nation in Berlin, another city to add to his list of public art projects and commissions in Barcelona, Amsterdam and London. For today, we are showcasing this new public art mural for his hometown in Barnstaple.
“Returning to my home town to engage young people through art feels very significant to me,” he says, adding that he hopes the new mural can bridge a local conversation on the value of art to inspire positive action. Judging from the workshop he did with local kids to practice their graffiti tags, Richt is also part of that positive inspiration.
Stylistically diverse artists are gathered loosely around a dispersed list of goals – and the results are a variety of public works that hope to challenge communities in Bristol, England, with pertinent messages about the collapse of ecological systems demarking the current age.
A series of art activations curated by Charlotte Pyatt this fall in conjunction with the Vanguard exhibition here at M Shed, Charlotte asked artists Richt, Peace of Art, Filthy Luker, Mau Mau, Gabriel Pitcher, Lucy McLauchlan, Caryn Koh, Ampparito, and Paul Harfleet to conceptualize pertinent responses to the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. It’s a high order, but you must begin somewhere and, by partnering with local community groups in Bristol, the team hoped to show how the people of this city can localize global conversations on poverty eradication, environmental protection and societal equality.
The Vanguard team is made up of a collective of artists, specialists and collectors involved in the global street art movement, say the promotional materials, and the project is led by Mary McCarthy with creative direction from Charlotte Pyatt, art direction from Justin MacCarthy aka DICY, and design direction from Graham Dews aka PARIS.
Below are images from the outdoor installations along with some information from their press department about each artist. Special thanks to photographer Doug Gillen for sharing these excellent images with BSA readers.
“Luke Egan and Pete Hamilton AKA street art duo Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas have been creating inflatable artworks together for 24 years. The artist’s unmistakable style and use of medium has carved a unique niche in the international Street Art movement.”
The duo took over the rooftop of We The Curious with an inflatable floral sculpture to amplify SDG15 Life on Land, in partnership with The Natural History Consortium.
“This year city partners came together to create the first One City Ecological Emergency Strategy,” says Savita Willmot is chief executive of The Natural History Consortium. “Our challenge is to now bring these ideas to life across the streets of Bristol. Arts and culture are at the heart of our city, and harnessing the engaging power of art will be crucial to tackling our environmental emergencies.”
The Pansy Project
The Pansy Project created a tour calling for Gender Equality, say, organizers. More specifically they called for an end to all discrimination and violence against women and girls, which includes lesbophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.
Artist Paul Harfleet brought The Pansy Project to Bristol, leading a free walking tour of the city along which he planted pansies at sites of homophobic and transphobic abuse as a defiant but gentle resistance to hate.
“Despite the melancholic nature of my work, there’s always joy in connecting with my LGBTQ+ siblings to share our stories and connect,” Harfleet says. “I believe that sharing the challenges we face connects and strengthens us.”
A British artist based in South Korea, Gabriel Pitcher uses figurative portraits, short films, and on-street interventions to confront norms about classical beauty, and examines attitudes and psychology in the meantime.
The community ambassador for this intervention in St Werburgh’s is The Global Goals Centre. “I’ve always been interested in exploring and documenting the stories behind the people I paint,” says the artist. This portrait celebrates Katie Cross, her sport, and her effort to ignite that same curiosity and energy for engaging meaningfully with the conversation on climate action.”
Aligning his materials with the climate focus of the activation, Pitcher created his mural using Graphenstone paint which draws in carbon from the air as it cures.”
British Artist and illustrator based in Bristol, UK. Richt aesthetic is minimally monochromatic works with elements of comics, pop, and abstract landscape.
Focusing on the need for “Decent Work and Economic Growth,” he partnered with community ambassador Campus Skateparks and painted a mural at Campus Pool Skatepark to celebrate the role of skate culture in fostering pathways into the creative industries.
“Skateboarding is so many different things,” he says. “For me, at its core, it’s an act of rebellion where nobody is in charge of the biggest club of misfits and rejects ever assembled. The only logical outcome from that recipe is creativity in abundance.”
Light-spirited satirist Mau Mau calls out social injustice and environmental disaster, as he has done for the past 2 decades. “His stable of urban creatures have grown to become icons in their own right,” say organizers. “His foxes, pigs, and sheep have appeared on walls from Japan to the States,” they say, and “He has worked with the likes of Banksy, Dizzie Rascal, Surfers Against Sewage and Greenpeace to name a few.”
Speaking on the artwork, a representative for Frank Water said: “[Here] The globe’s surface points to India, the country with the most people in the world (77 million) without improved access to safe water and the region where FRANK WATER undertakes most of their overseas work. This is juxtaposed with the fact that we undervalue our access to quality water here in the UK, we even flush toilets with drinking-quality water. This aligns with the organization’s efforts to encourage a shift in attitudes to water locally, increasing its perceived value and promoting stewardship.”
Peace of Art
Bristol-based female street art collective “Peace of Art” features local artists Emily Richards, Aumairah Hassan Safina Khan and Manazzar Siddique. Begun the street in 2020, the trio say they are “passionate about painting murals that are empowering and reflective of the diverse local community and bringing positive, inspiring art to the area.”
“This mural aims to highlight the issues around climate change and clean air inequalities. It is a reminder of our deep connection with nature as well as one another and the quality of the air we breathe should not and cannot be taken for granted.”